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Oman - Solar Base.

GlassPoint, the global leader in solar EOR, in May 2013 announced the commissioning of its first project in Oman and the Middle East, after a small pilot system was used for PDO as a trial. By harnessing the sun's energy with GlassPoint's Enclosed Trough technology, this produces a daily average of 50 tons of emissions-free steam which feeds directly into existing thermal operations at the Amal West field. The 7MW system now is in regular operation, exceeding contracted steam output by 10%. Restucci in May said: "The GlassPoint system is proving it can reliably fuel thermal EOR with solar power while reducing the need to burn natural gas". GlassPoint's system cuts gas used for EOR by up to 80%. Its trough encloses parabolic mirrors inside a glass-house structure, protecting the solar collectors from harsh conditions of high wind, dust, dirt, sand and humidity common to Middle East oilfields. The enclosure enables the use of ultra-light, low-cost reflective materials and automated washing equipment, further reducing costs. Construction of the project, begun in January 2012, ended in late 2012.

The history of oil production in Oman is unique. It is not like the North Sea, where there were oil discoveries, massive production levels and then fast declines. There had been a steady increase in oil production until the turn of this millennium. It is a reflection of Oman's complex geology. But technology has evolved and enabled a steady increase in recovery, up to 20% in some fields. Yet the easy oil has all been found and developed. Now what is left is the difficult oil province.

Shell Development Oman remains optimistic about the future of Oman's oil sector. The relationship with the government is one of mutual partnership and the maximum exchange of knowledge. In 2006, Shell launched Shell Technology Oman, its R&D centre in Muscat. The centre works closely with Sultan Qaboos University's Oil & Gas Research Department and PDO.

The geology of Oman's petroleum fields reflects harsh topography. Most of the fields are deep and tight, making extraction extremely difficult. The new projects rely on expensive EOR systems to extract what remains in the oilfields. PDO has more than 20 EOR projects.

PDO in early February 2009 announced discovery of three new oilfields. Two of them - Taliah and Malaan West - are among PDO's Lekhwair cluster of fields in the north-west. They are part of the Upper Shu'aiba formation (Fm), which contains many of the reservoirs of PDO's main fields. The third - Rabab South-East - confirmed the preliminary results of well tests PDO mentioned in 2008. Oil production from Rabab South-East began later in 2009, through the existing facilities at Harweel field in the south.

Drilling and studies in 2008 enabled PDO to better estimate the extent of petroleum volumes at the Burhaan West and Fahud SW gas fields, as well as at the Budour NE oilfield found in previous years. The reservoirs of Burhaan West and Fahud SW have low permeability. As a consequence, the reservoir rocks first had to be cracked with extreme hydraulic pressure.

PDO's first EOR projects were in fields near Nimr, around Harweel, in Qarn Alam, at Marmul, and at Fahud. The Amal fields produce heavy oil from beam pumped wells with depths varying from 500 to 1,000 metres. PDO built an 800 CM/d water treatment plant for Amal West and Amal East. Two skid-mounted 200 t/d portable gas-fired steam generators provide the steam needed for the EOR system at the two fields.

PDO found Harweel in 1997 and since has found seven similar fields containing intra-salt carbonate stringers in a large 1,000 sq km area. It estimated the cluster contained an initial 1.8bn barrels in place of light and sour oils and re-trograde condensate. The cluster includes Shujirat, Sakhiya, Harweel Deep, Sarmad, Ghafeer, Dafiq, Dhahaban South, and Zalzala. PDO has drilled more than 60 wells in these fields and in Phase-1 has produced oil from four fields and injected gas in Zalzala to confirm the viability of miscible sour gas injection. During Phase-1, PDO produced about 18,000 b/d from the Harweel cluster.

Production could rise to more than 100,000 b/d once the Phase 2AB project is completed. The crude oils found in that cluster are some of the oldest on earth. PDO estimates a 10% ultimate recovery without miscible sour-gas injection which may increase to more than 30% with injection. The Harweel facilities will process very corrosive fluids, so that much of the installed equipment and piping is made from corrosion-resistant alloys.

PDO found Qarn Alam in 1972 and estimated that initial oil in place in the field's fractured carbonate reservoir was 1bn barrels. Without the thermal project, only 4% of the oil could be recovered from the field. But with its TAGOGD project, ultimate recoveries may exceed 32%.

In April 2007, PDO began work on a shake-up of its engineering operations by employing an in-house front-end engineering and design (FEED) office for the first time. Under the terms of the initial five-year cost-plus contract, the successful design firm was to assign up to 30 staff to PDO, working with existing staff and employees assigned from Shell (see the background in omt6OmanFieldsFeb4-08).

PDO has more than 120 oil and gas on stream connected to its production system in onshore Oman's four main oil fair-ways, which are as follows: (1) the north, along the border with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which is an extension of the Arabian Basin, including Thamama-related fields like the Fahud-Lekhwair-Daleel group; (2) the north-central groups in the Infracambrian Salt Basin, which include the main producing fields like Yibal and fields centred on Natih-Shibkah; (3) the central and west-central groups, also in the Salt Basin, which include the gas-rich Saih Nihaydah; and (4) the south, in a Lower Salt Basin with fields of both very heavy and medium/light oils centred on the Marmul-Nimr-Rima-Jalmud trend.

All of PDO's wells now are horizontal. These and the use of 3D seismic have resulted in oil and gas finds in excess of expectations. The wells stretch 500m to 1.5 km along a reservoir, giving higher production with less water, and help in the search for or identification of additional reserves.
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Publication:APS Review Oil Market Trends
Geographic Code:7OMAN
Date:Feb 10, 2014
Previous Article:Oman - Petroleum Development Oman.
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